It’s true. Sometimes doctors struggle with the idea of innovating in the space of business. Some docs used to think you couldn’t do both – you couldn’t be a good businessperson and really take your oath seriously, meaning, care about patients. The foundation of DPC allows you to flip that theory on its head! We take a very bold stance now to say that really embracing and holding true to our oath of “do no harm” must also mean do no financial harm.
We must continually push ourselves to find ways to innovate that bring value to our patients.
For example. Direct Care offers wholesale medications, so most of the time they’re somewhere around 90 – 95% off. It’s literally ten times cheaper to get your medications through Direct Care than Walmart. Take Immitrex for example. (Use GoodRx.com to price check.) Depending on your area, Immitrex is anywhere from $88 to $256 for the generic version. But the wholesale price is $6. And the patient pays $6. Let that sink in! How long did doctors struggle with patients who couldn’t afford their medications only because we complained about the system rather than find a way to fix it ourselves?
As a patient, you don’t have to be rich to like more money, but if you’re struggling financially or working a low-paying job, those savings are even more significant. That’s time back with your family – not to mention a better quality of life. Direct primary care removes all those hurdles.
Traditional healthcare had a culture of either learned helplessness, or groupthink. It has historically lacked a culture of “Innovate, Help and Build” because it always felt that a wall was built by insurance and government. If they didn’t pay for it, then by default we couldn’t do it. And us docs were so busy seeing 30, 40 even 50 people a day that we had no choice but to focus on the task at hand rather than our future ability to practice medicine.
Ahh, the naysayers.
They said DPC wouldn’t work. They said “docs aren’t the best businesspeople, so they don’t have a great vision for the model.” We’re incredibly proud of the part of that statement that’s true: some docs are inherently better at healthcare than they are business. But because it’s a better value for the doc and patient alike, Direct Care is catching on like wildfire! We just have to keep innovating and keep finding new ways to help our patients.
Direct Care features a direct relationship between doctor and patient, even when it comes to payment. We never looked at insurance as completely bad. In fact, insurance companies were doing exactly what we asked them to do, which was, “take my money and pay for my healthcare.” As a result, they made the healthcare decisions. When you take the money back, you get to make the decisions yourself.
When you approach it like this, everybody wins. A Direct Care doc can go to a self-funded employer and decrease their insurance costs by 30-60% in year one. We didn’t come at this with a voice of antagonism toward insurance, but rather one of synergy. How do we work together? We may not be happy with what insurance has done in the past, but we know our patients need it, right? How do we show the insurance companies how to reinvent their model? Think of it another way. How do you make insurance cheaper? Use less of it! Insure fewer things! We don’t insure gas and oil and tire changes, and so we don’t need to insure a CBC that costs $2, or a A1C that costs $2.71 (and that’s with a 10% markup!!). Now insurance can get back to covering the catastrophic stuff they were intended for, and that means lower premiums, more jobs and happier patients. And if we can keep pushing in that direction, and we’re all innovating at that speed, then the patient ultimately wins.
Henry Ford said it way back when. If A + B = C and C is profit, then all you have to focus on is A + B. If all we have to worry about is providing our patients great service at a great price, the rest will fall right into place.
These remarks were originally spoken by Dr. Josh Umbehr, founder of Atlas.md, at an Association of American Physicians and Surgeons conference. They have been adapted for written use on this blog. Watch the full video here.